HOW ON EARTH I AM IN THE MIDST OF BABIES?

I, being a person who enjoys making fun about my own self, I rarely have any embarrassing moments as such that can really entertain my readers. Yeah, I had two such moments where I had to be embarrassed because I could not hold back my bursting bladder but let loose on a crowded street in my trouser once and in a cab another time. The first incident I had already shared in the comment section of Pradita’s article “Looking for the Loo” and the second one was quite similar to the first one, so I don’t want repeat it again.

Let me share something today which might be quite different than what others have shared or will be sharing.

It was in 2001, February 20th, when I had my second heart surgery. The surgery was over but I was in complete darkness and haze because of the effects of anaesthesia till the next morning. When a nurse woke me up in the morning the very next day, I heard cries of babies all around my bed in the Intensive Care Unit of Manipal Heart Foundation, Bangalore. I saw the morning shift nurses were looking at me with a confusing expressions reflecting on their faces while taking over the duty from the night shift nurses. I thought maybe the young nurses were fascinated by my handsome persona and that’s why they were discussing about me with each other… But I was in such a pain, that I was not so mindful of what they were thinking or discussing. Remember, I just had an open heart surgery a day ago and I was in a state where I only could thank my God for granting me another life.

Minutes later, I realised what they were discussing about me when I overheard a nurse asking a senior nurse in charge of me, “how come this patient of 25 years old was brought in to this Paediatric ICU?” The senior nurse smiled and walked close to me saying, “This is my 25 years old baby who was kept here because there might be a shortage of beds in the adult wards”. And all of them giggled looking at me though not in a bad intention yet I felt embarrassed wondering, why on earth I was between all the babies around me. I forced a smile looking at my nurse but was really mortified to know where I was at that moment as I tried to look around painfully tilting my neck, to see only babies and their cutie nurses all around their respective beds. Soon, to my utter dismay, I realised I was bare completely under the sheets like a new born baby while there were young nurses all around me. When one of them did the whole body sponging and her fingers caressed through my bare skin, at those uncomfortable areas of me, it made me feel embarrassed all the more.  Although I knew there’s no alternative to it and she was just doing what she was supposed to do. Probably, I would have enjoyed the bath if I would have been in a different scenario but not at least in the condition I was in that time. :p

Later that evening when my surgeon came to see me, my first question to him was, “Doc, why am I in a Paediatric ICU?” And it was a new revelation for me as well as the nurses around me when he addressed my question… “Chiradeep, you are a congenital heart patient. Your heart and lungs didn’t develop as of a normal adult and thus a Paediatric Cardiologist can only understand the movements taking place in your body much better than anyone else. That is the reason why you are in this particular ICU.”

After two days, I was shifted to a normal adult ward to my relief and did all my routines on my own that were supposed to be done privately.

Now, years later when I visit my specialist, I wait for my doctor in the OPD sitting along with the babies all around. When I go to the counter to register, they ask, “Where’s the patient, where’s the baby?” And I answer them politely with a smile, “I am the one, I am the patient… I have congenital heart problem and I am supposed to be shown to the Paediatric Cardiologist”.

It has become a habit for me now to get a surprise look from people about me as there are very few like me who must be moving around in the crowd. But I would say, my embarrassment 18 years back was not because of my silly mistakes or oops moments but it was because of a lifestyle that was in the process of being set for me inimitably by God over which I didn’t have any control at all. When I recall all, which have happened in my life in the past or still happening now, I get marvelled and gather them as precious lessons for my life and for the life of others to embrace them, to learn from them and to live.

Stay Blessed!

(Picture Credit: Google Inc.)

LOOKING FOR THE LOO

I have a great relationship with my bathroom! I see it so often and spend so much time in it that it could very well double up as my bedroom. What isn’t there to like about a place that relieves you of that niggling pain, or helps you relax and cleanse yourself? Which is why I love putting up potted plants, paintings of more potted plants and magazines in my bathrooms. Makes sense to make it comfortable when you want to spend so much time there, no?

But as much as I like my bathroom, I hate my bladder because it has always been the source of embarrassment for me. As far back as secondary school, I’ve had ‘pee’ issues. I was always infamous for being the girl who went every period. At college, if us friends ever decided to go anywhere as a group, someone would inevitably joke, ‘Pradita, make sure you’ve done the necessary before we leave… and no water afterwards!’ What a shame!

Things didn’t improve for me when I got married. My MIL especially would always reproach me for how frequently I needed to go everywhere… and in a Sari too! I think if there is a Guinness record of visiting the most bathrooms in a city, I must be the record-holder because within the first three months of my marriage I had acquainted myself with the insides of each and every one of our family friends’ bathrooms, and the public loos at supermarkets and malls in our area. It got to the point that if an acquaintance wanted to find a toilet in a public place, they would ask me!

It was heaven to know that no one judged you for going when I was pregnant, seeing as how pregnant women have to go a lot. Surprisingly, it’s become better since the birth of my daughter, but even now the odd unfortunate incident does occur, and I still have to maintain my ritual of relieving myself before I venture out of the home… and no water afterwards.

So yes, I hate my bladder and what I hate even more is that it has not an iota of control over what it’s supposed to control and contain – pee! I’ve had misfortunes like missing the school bus, getting an earful from teachers and relatives over my urgency. I’ve lost out on friends and even a potential boyfriend because I got too irritable and screamed at them, all thanks to a bursting bladder. I made friends with Meftal Spas to counter the pain when I had a hold-it-in-thon.

But the most embarrassing moment for me was in Secondary School when I had moved to another city and so had to join a new school. I was new to everything in that city. It was my first day at school and I was, like how most newcomers are, lost. Needless to say, my bladder wasn’t happy with my nervous condition and it quickly starting pinging me evacuation messages. I excused myself from the class and went looking for the loo. The school was huge and old, which meant that I had to walk a lot from one wing of the school to the other as per the directions given by my bench-mate. I ran at the first sight of ‘Toilet’ written on a placard and nearly skidded to a stop when I saw urinals inside. Oops! It was the Boys Bathroom.

Now my bladder had already reached its limit and I was just barely holding on. So my inner-self screamed, ‘The Girls Bathroom is a whole storey up. No one’s here. Just go into one of the stalls!’ And I did. And the moment I did, a boy of about my own age appeared (we must have been ten). He came to a dead halt and so did I. And then he squeaked (obviously because he was embarrassed to see a girl in a boys bathroom. Maybe also because a girl saw him zipping up), “Didi, this is the Boys Bathroom”, and he snuck out of there.

I didn’t pay him any heed. The moment he left, I rushed to one of the covered stalls and relieved myself. Thankfully there was no one else in the bathroom to add to my shame. But when I finally reached the classroom, what do I see? The boy who I had an encounter with was, in fact, my own classmate. He looked at me and giggled, and I could almost see the rest of my future in that school flash before my eyes – being branded “Pee Queen” or smart mouths at school mocking me, “Hey Pradita, looking for the Loo?” Oh god, why couldn’t my bladder just let me be?!

That whole day I kept imagining the worst, that people were staring at me, that they were making jokes and that no one would ever be friends with me in that school. But nothing of the sort happened. Weeks went by and eventually, I got over that incident. I made friends, lots of them and though they all would joke about how frequently I  needed to go, no one ever mentioned that incident. However, I could never look that boy in the eye and never made friends with him throughout the two years that I spent at that school. Also, I double check now if I’m using the Girls Bathroom.

But just four years back that boy got in touch with me through Facebook and when I asked him if he remembered that incident, he said, “What? That really happened? I don’t remember that.” (No wonder I made friends and no one called me Pee Queen at the school) I thanked him profusely for never mentioning it to anyone. He didn’t seem to understand why I was making a big deal about it.

When I look at this incident now I realise just how funny life is sometimes. Such incidents, to some, they mean a lot; they could mean the end or the beginning of something; they could leave a mark on or even scar your memory. And yet to others who may even be connected to the same incident, such incidents could mean nothing at all. This only taught me that I should never take such silly episodes seriously in life because life is much more than that.

Our embarrassment over something is a state of mind. Like how public display of affection is okay with some, yet embarrassing to others. That day I may have been embarrassed by using the Boys Bathroom in an urgent situation. Today? Well, let’s just say my bladder doesn’t leave me an option.

Pradita Kapahi

Image Source: Zorro4 / 142 images